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Navigating Language Barriers

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Moving to a new country often comes with a whirlwind of emotions and challenges, one of the most significant being the language barrier. On Community Hour, Gabriela Mendes Garcia and Ana Luiza, two students who moved to Canada, discuss their experiences with learning and adapting to English.

Gabriela recalls the early days in Canada when pronouncing certain words was a constant struggle.

Gabriela said, “Sometimes it was a struggle. It wasn’t that I couldn’t pronounce the words; it was more about my head not feeling like it sounded right. For example, the word’ world, ‘I had to practice it so many times.”

Gabriela, who learned English at a younger age, often found herself correcting her mom’s pronunciation. “I was younger when I learned English, right? So, I find myself correcting my mom because she sometimes didn’t know the difference between certain words.”

Gabriela adds, “It’s funny because even now when people try to speak English, you can see the struggle. You feel their pain because you’ve been through it.”

Both students had interesting insights when discussing the best methods to learn a new language. Gabriela believes in the power of immersion. “I learned English when I was six, so being surrounded by English 24/7 made it much easier. Do you find it hard to switch between languages?”

Ana responds, “I go to Brazil once a year, and my family visits, so I don’t lose touch with Portuguese. But sometimes, it’s hard to switch. I might mix up Portuguese and English, and people don’t always understand.”

However, Ana also sees value in language learning apps. “My family used a lot of learning apps. They’re useful if you don’t have time to talk with someone or attend a class. But speaking with someone helps you learn the everyday slang and informal language that apps don’t always teach.”

Gabriela attributes her proficiency in formal English to watching movies and reading. “I like to watch movies and read stories where the language is very formal. It’s a pleasure to meet you on such a fine evening. That’s how I learned to speak and write formally.”

Ana agrees, adding, “If you’re passionate about the culture and language, it makes learning much easier. I tried learning Korean because I was fascinated by the culture and the way they pronounce things. It made me more invested in learning.”

Both students emphasize the long-term benefits of learning a new language. “It’s very worth it in the future,” Gabriela says. “Even if you’re older, it’s amazing to know another language. If you’re younger, it opens up more job opportunities and chances to travel.”

Ana concludes, “It’s never too late to learn a language. It’s not just about the language itself but also understanding the culture. If you’re passionate about it, it’s much easier. Language apps are useful, but talking to someone can help with the accent and everyday usage.”

Gabriela and Ana’s experiences highlight the complexities and rewards of overcoming language barriers. Whether through immersion, formal education, or language apps, their journey underscores the importance of persistence and passion in mastering a new language. Their stories serve as an inspiration to anyone facing similar challenges, proving that with dedication, the language barrier can indeed be overcome.

– Yuliia Kovalenko, U Multicultural

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